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February 08, 2005

A Compromise on Card Check?

Here's a fascinating report at the new Labor Law Blog on the card check/neutrality agreement debate and a potential compromise discussed. (Suddenly labor blogs are popping up all over).

A recent D.C. Bar Association meeting had representatives from both the Bush NLRB and from the AFL-CIO discussing the upcoming Dana/Metaldyne cases, where the specific issue is whether a new election can be demanded right after a union is recognized under a card check agreement.

Normally, there are no elections allowed for a year after a union is recognized to give time for the bargaining relation to stabilize. The worry is that if that rule is dropped after card check recognition, unions will be faced by employer-supported campaigns that will make negotiations for a contract nearly impossible.

In response to those criticisms, the NLRB General Counsel is urging the following rule:

[The NLRB should] process an election petition shortly after voluntary recognition if the following conditions are met: the petition must be filed with 30 days from the date that the employer notifies the employees that it has voluntarily recognized the union and the petition must have the support of 50% of employees. If a petitioner can obtain support from at least 50% of the employees, then the Board is justified in questioning the card check's validity.
First, this would limit challenges to immediately after recognition, so the employer couldn't hold back, then play games months after agreeing to recognition. Secondly, since it usually only take 30% of employees to force a decertification election, a rule requiring 50% to support a new election is a far more significant barrier.

We'll see how ambitious the Bush NLRB gets with this decision; they may just be going for step-by-step gutting of the law, so this compromise approach may appeal to them. But it's an interesting proposal that indicates the debate on card check agreements will likely have multiple rounds.

Posted by Nathan at February 8, 2005 02:54 PM